Hello and welcome (back) to mmm-yoso!!! Cathy is blogging today. Kirk is (still) on vacation and ed(from Yuma) is still busy with work.
If you are driving South on Lake Murray, just past the El Paso signal light on the West side of the street, you'll see this new facade on an old building. The Vine Cottage opened in January of this year. I have only heard good things about it, seen it being pretty crowded at various times of the day and decided The Mister and I should give it a try for one of our 'celebratory' dinners. (It does open at 11 a.m. daily and has excellent lunches also). You can't see much in this photo, but there are about 12 outdoor tables, which are filled in the evening and warmed by those six outdoor heat lamps. There are about 10 tables and a small bar area inside.
When you are seated, the one page menu and a bottle of chilled tap water is brought to your table. I've seen this way of water service at several bistros and finally remembered to take a photo. I've even started chilling water at home this way. This place is run like a fine Bistro in Paris would be run, it serves American, local fresh food, wine and beer.
Also a cone shaped vessel, filled with a fresh made cracker-like flatbread and fresh made hummus is brought out to the table. The hummus is excellent.
All of the waitpersons here are very professional and patient and will explain how each dish is prepared, all the ingredients in each dish and will answer all questions you have about the food, wine and beers served here.
As an appetizer, the lamb chops ($12) could be a meal. 'New Zealand lamb chops' it says on the menu, 'served with a Champagne-whole grain mustard sauce'. It didn't say three on the menu, we assumed there would only be two, since the listing was plural. We asked the chops to be cooked medium rare, and they were. This serving size, cooking and flavors were a wonderful surprising lead in as to the dinner which would follow.
For my meal, I chose a cup of the soup of the day ($4). It was vegetable soup. Excellent vegetable soup. Barely any broth, but what I did taste was rich flavored (it was a chicken broth and not vegetable) filled with squash, cabbage, carrot, potato, onion. Very hearty and excellent.
I wanted to try the Pizza Bianco, a white vegetable pizza ($12). A fresh thin bread which was infused with cheese and oil was topped with matchstick cut zuchini and yellow squash, topped with Havarti cheese. This was a very large pizza, easily shared (or reheated for breakfast the next morning). Oh, it tasted heavenly.
The Mister went with the "Sea and Garden" ($17) as his main course-garlic mashed potatoes, topped with grilled asparagus, topped with a (finely ground) nut crusted wahoo fillet, topped with fried leeks and accompanied by a chive oil. The potatoes were subtly flavored (I usually do not like garlic, or any flavor other than butter mashed potatoes), the asparagus was fresh and bright, the fish was firm, cooked just right to stay moist and tender, fresh and flavorful and the flavors of everything worked very well together.
The Vine Cottage is known for its wines and beers (8 on tap and 14 canned), but this evening we were too exhausted to try those. They serve meat and cheese platters, which pair well with both wine and the beers. There are also pastas and wonderful salads on the menu. Most of the items are also available at lunch time, for a bit lower price. Oh. There are desserts. Heavenly desserts. Next time. I'll post about those. Since the menu and ingredients are driven by what is in season, a lot of the menu changes. But that is a good thing. Fresh is always good.
Being in this strip mall as well as in La Mesa, you would not expect such a fancy yet not pretentious, affordable, well run, wonderful addition to the East County. Vine Cottage is fast becoming part of our 'rotation'.
Vine Cottage Bistro 6062 Lake Murray Boulevard La Mesa, CA 91942 (619) 465-0198 Website